South Africa Plans To Secretly Move Rhinos To Safety

South Africa Plans To Secretly Move Rhinos To Safety

As part of a plan that sounds almost like a movie plot, 500 white rhinos will be evacuated from South Africa's Kruger National Park and secretly taken to new homes to protect them from poachers.

Although international trade in rhino horns has been illegal since 1977, demand remains high in some Asian countries, the BBC reports, where it is used both in traditional medicine and as a symbol of wealth. The Ministry for the Environment made the decision in an effort to stop the illegal hunting.

At the current rate, the species — 80% of which live in South Africa — is threatened with extinction. The latest bulletin from SANParks says poaching has hit the Kruger rhino population hard. The 2013 census showed that the park — which is roughly the same size as Wales or Israel — has between 8,400 and 9,600 white rhinos and around 2,000 black rhinos left.

Early leaked reports from the Ministry say that 250 will be sold to conservation-minded private individuals, and the other half will be moved to nature reserves, probably in neighboring Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana.

The operation will no doubt be complex because of the size of the animals. On average, a rhino weighs 2.5 tons. It will involve tracking the animals in rugged and remote bush, darting them with tranquilizers from helicopters and then moving them to safety. Moving each animal could cost up to $2,000.

File photos of black rhinos being moved — Photos: Michael Raimondo/WWF/Green Renaissance/ZUMA

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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